reduce plaque (a thin film of bacteria that forms on teeth)
prevent or reduce gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease)
reduce the speed that tartar (hardened plaque) forms on the teeth or to produce a combination of these effects.
Most mouthwashes are available without a prescription. Your dentist can advise you whether you need a mouthwash and what kind of mouthwash to use depending on your oral health needs.
There are two types of mouthwashes:
Therapeutic mouthwashes. These can help reduce plaque, gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath. Those that contain fluoride help prevent or reduce tooth decay.
Cosmetic mouthwashes. These may temporarily control or reduce bad breath and leave the mouth with a pleasant taste, but don’t deal with the causes of bad breath, kill the bacteria that cause bad breath; or help reduce plaque, gingivitis or cavities.
If you have difficulty brushing and flossing, a mouthwash may provide additional protection against cavities and gum disease. When selecting a mouthwash look for products that carry the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, which have been tested for their safety and effectiveness.